Mysterious Sound in my neighborhood...

At about 1 am, I was working out in the screen porch when I heard a strange noise coming from the woods. At first, thought it was odd, but I assumed it would go away. It didn't. Eventually I grabbed one of the school's H4N digital recorders and when out in the front yard to record it. I took Irie.

I recorded about 12 minutes total. I removed the first few minutes of me fumbling with doors and the drone of the window fan in our bedroom above. I also cut out twenty seconds between the last cry and Irie beginning to woof. Then I cut out another full minute from the last sound Irie makes to me telling her to come in. I ran a noise reducer over the whole things to cut out my breathing and the sound of me peeing my pants.

Baby bear calling it's mother? Heron-monkey-from-Hell? Bigfoot? Forest spirit? Drunken crow?

bear cub?

Update: Things Are Looking Up

Sorry I haven't updated in more than a week. It's been so overwhelming that every time I sat down to sum up, I felt like I had more questions than answers. Things are looking up, for the most part, so here's the news:

The House

The house is pretty much gutted now. On the second floor, they removed the wood floor in the hallway; the sheetrock in the hallway, the girls' bathroom, and the exercise room; they are pulling up the carpet in the girls' rooms, the exercise room, and Tab's office; they are taking out the tile floor in the girls' bathroom. Essentially, every room up there except the master suite has been reduced to bare studs and subfloor. On the first floor, they pulled up all of the oak floors in the dining room, living room, and hallway; they're pulling up the floor tile in the kitchen and guest bath; they removed the sheetrock and ceilings in the dining room, living room, guest bath and part of the kitchen, they pulled up the carpet in my office. They will be replacing the treads on the staircase. Additionally, all of the built in bookshelves, the murphy bed, etc. from all rooms except the master suite and the family room have been removed to be refinished--that goes for many of the kitchen cabinets, too. They're also replacing the kitchen countertop and the vanity in the girls' bathroom.Eventually, they will have to refinish the oak floors in the family room, too. All of our belongings (except clothing and a few odds and ends we stored in the master closet) are packed away in storage or being refinished at the furniture medic or tested at the electronics restoration place.

When all is said and done, in three months, we'll have new carpets and oak floors in most of the house. They will paint every wall in the house. Plus, we'll have new tile floors in two bathrooms and in the kitchen and a new countertop in the kitchen.

We'll also have a new furnace--though that cost is on us since it was just a coincidence that the disaster happened to reveal that our furnace was on it's last legs.

Much of the wiring that was not damaged by the water will have to be replaced since the demolition revealed that it had been chewed in several places by mice. That cost is on us, too.

We chose to go with State Farm's preferred contractor for the rebuild. They're not local 🙁 but they have an excellent reputation and they guarantee their work (and that of all their subcontractors) for FIVE years! We should be ironing out details very soon on particulars like pain colors, tile choices, etc. The reconstruction is supposed to take two to three months. We fully expect it to take a little longer.

Our Living Situation

State Farm has been taking good care of us. We've been living at the Common Man Inn for a week now and will remain here until Friday. It's a pretty posh hotel for these parts and we have been pretty spoiled for the last week. At the same time, even with one room for us and one for the kids, it gets pretty old living in a hotel. Tonight we met with a local guy who owns a FABULOUS house up on Texas Hill Road. He agreed to rent the house to us for three months (and more if we need it). It's a gorgeous place--a giant log home with views of Plymouth Mountain on one side and a view clear up to the notch on another. We move in Friday. What's more, the place is fully furnished (even pots and pans and dishes), so we don't have to go down to Manchester to dig our stuff out of storage. We can't wait to get there and cook for ourselves for a change.

We're all doing fine. Maya has had some rough days (she feels very much adrift), and Tab and I worry about how much this will cost in the end, but by and large we're all just rolling with it. It could have been worse: we could have been uninsured, or insured by a lousy company. As it happens, we're feeling very well cared-for.

Many thanks to all who have written or commented or called...I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to most of you. The day to day details have been pretty daunting up this point. Our friends have really gone out of their way to support us--inviting us over for home-cooked meals, to offering rides for the kids, temporarily adopting the cat, and my friend Phil, in particular has spent hours serving as technical advisor, ambassador from the world of contractors, and part-time project manager. I owe that guy a beer... I owe a LOT of you a beer.

This summer, we'll have a big BBQ at our new house and we'll try to dish out some payback. You'll have to take your shoes off, floors don't you know.

New Facebook Test Application

I couldn't actually post this ON Facebook because someone might have thought it was aimed at them, specifically.

I'm devising a new FB test application: answer ten questions and it will tell you whether you are narcissistic, vain, self-absorbed, egotistical, conceited, self-important, self-loving, or merely self-admiring.

Question 1:
`Ssup good looking?

The Plank

I had a dream about a year ago in which Brian was alive and we were (in parts of the dream) kids. We were playing in the driveway at one point and I accidentally knocked him over. He stopped speaking and began to lose his shape. I dragged him by the feet into a sort of wooden shed that was suddenly, conveniently, nearby. I took an old plane and began to run it up his torso toward what should have been a face. By the time I got there, he was a wooden plank.

There was one part of the newspaper story yesterday that bothered me more than any other: "I'm a writer, a poet and I wrote it out of myself years ago," he said. "I've written this thing so many times it's almost not my story. It now lives on paper."

I was misquoted, but only slightly. I mostly said what she wrote. I wish I hadn't, though.

I was thinking about that as I was trying to fall asleep last night. We need a journal for the waterfall scene and I had volunteered to use Brian's actual journal from the trip. Chad and Andrew didn't like that idea for obvious reasons so this morning I'll walk over to the college bookstore and find something else.

I lay awake for a long time last night thinking about the ways I am shaving him down.

In the hall...

I was late getting to the set this morning because I had to stop off and answer some emails from PSU. When I got there, I bumped into Chad as I was coming out of the elevator and he took me aside for a little chat. He was very gentle. He was a little embarrassed. The bottom line, they were afraid the actors might be a little uncomfortable with me watching them shoot the morgue scene.

I'm not sore. It's a tough one. It's based on my poem, The Morgue, and it's one of the two or three harshest scenes in the script.

So I'm down the hall in one of the university computer labs (wow! EKU has invested in some nice equipment) waiting for them to wrap so we can drive out to the falls for this afternoon's shoot.

Here's the poem:
The Morgue
In the room where I walked as quietly as I could, afraid any sudden noise
might precipitate his collapse, I found my brother was still beautiful.

All afternoon, riding to the morgue, I fought the image of him, swollen,
his flesh like dough that's risen too long, become too light to support its own weight.

The mortician, disapproving of my insistence on seeing my brother
before taking care of business, promised no sign of his `ordeal'

still marred the body, a little bruise maybe, on his throat, where the hook
had caught and dragged him to the surface, and nothing else. Unveiled,

the traces of all his smiling still pulled at the corners of his mouth, for a moment,
I thought how my mother would look on her youngest child, in his coffin,

and know that in life, his smile had been effortless, the natural lay of his face.
But across the sterile basement from where the tips of his hair soothed an illusion

of living into my palm, across the room from where I bent, pressing my ear
to his chest, feeling nothing, except his awful solidity, the chill of his skin,

his hand, nerveless and so much heavier in death, beyond all these things
I glimpsed the slender black hose as it lay draped on a hook, its dull metal spout

blurred by a single thumbprint. This was the hose the man had used to spray
the mud from between my brother's toes, from the creases in his lips, his teeth

and the folds beneath his tongue. This was the hose that washed his hair, the palms
of his hands, so that on seeing his first dead body, his brother would not know

that this had been a filthy death. This was the hose that rinsed the backs of his thighs,
scoured the debris from his ears and his lashes and his clean white ankles

so that I would not see how he had suffered in the dark water, how his cries had broken
on the hard black shore, how his lungs were soothed with damp leaves, mud

and the sluggish silence of his own isolation. I tried to turn around
in the basement room, to tell the mortician that he had done nice work,

but by then, vomit had pooled in my shirt pockets and on the clean, well-mopped
floor of the basement morgue and in my brother's open, immaculate hand.

Two Dairy Queens

I promised Chad I would not tell his wife, Jen (not one of the several Jens cast in the film), that we went to Dairy Queen twice today. We spent much of the day driving through some real Kentucky. Torrential rains last month meant that several rivers and creeks flooded--there were wrecked trailers and appliances along the banks of almost every waterway we passed.

It was fun, though, to hear and meet some real Kentucky. As we four-wheeled along muddy, washed out roads, Emily told us about her great uncle, "River" Arthur. So named to distinguish him from her Great-Grandfather, "Creek" Arthur. River lived down by the river. Creek lived over by the creek. "We're all Johnsons named Arthur. We don't get too creative with names."

Anyway, River Arthur was walking along the rain-swollen river one day when he saw two pages of a book floating by. He waded out into the brown flood to fetch them back to shore. He read these two pages and liked what there was of the story so much that he walked the creek and river every time it flooded hoping to find the rest.

We even met "Unk Arch's" uncle, "Unk Junior." He was in front of us on the tractor as we drove out of Emily's lane. He had to be 75, naked from the waist up. Half my size and twice my strength. Unk Junior was coming in out of the fields to pick peaches to sell at the farmer's market on Friday. Emily honked the horn and he pulled over. He grabbed a hoe from the tractor's fender and waved it menacingly before he smiled wide and walked over to the truck window. He ended many sentences with "I mean you know?" Emily leaned across the passenger seat and spoke out the window, "What's Aunt Doris up to, Unk? [pronounced 'uh-unk']"

"Oh, I got her workin' them beans." He smiled and winked. "You GOT to keep these people workin'."

We chatted about the floods and the bad roads and the poor tobacco crops. Unk wanted to know if Emily was going to get rich off of these movies so she could lend him some money. It was easy to see why Chad relishes every chance he gets to hang out with these very warm, very colorful characters.

Alas, we couldn't stand around jawing with Unk Junior all day. We had to go to Dairy Queen. Again. Chad practically cried for it. This DQ featured an important archive of historic Dairy Queen photos from the 1940s and 50s. It also had the Ten Commandments posted above the trash bins.

Cranes & Flamingos

I've mentioned Christine Messina's fantastic blog, Finding the Qs, on here before. She let me in on the action by sending two of her origami peace cranes with me to Orlando, Florida, for the Redesign Alliance Conference. I loved the cranes--especially this beautiful black one with silver lettering--but I REALLY enjoyed leaving them inserting them in strategic spots for some lucky traveler to find.

Click here to read the details.